The NBA has fined Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards $40,000 for using offensive and derogatory anti-gay language on social media.
In a now-deleted Instagram video, which has since been posted to Twitter by other social media users, Edwards is seen rolling down a car window and making comments about a group of shirtless men, some of whom appear to be wearing harnesses, embracing each other and talking in a close circle.
As he rolls down the window, Edwards calls the men “queer-ass n****s” while another person inside the car laughs in the background.
Shortly after the video was widely shared, Edwards deleted it and apologized for his actions in a statement, calling his behavior “immature, hurtful, and disrespectful” and his language “unacceptable.”
The Timberwolves also condemned the remarks, saying in a statement that the organization was “disappointed” in Edwards’ language and actions.
“The Timberwolves are committed to being an inclusive and welcoming organization for all and apologize for the offense this has caused to so many,” team President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly said.
The NBA’s fine of $40,000 is considered standard for violations of the league’s social media policy, falling within the range of penalties handed out to other players for anti-gay language. An investigation by the LGBTQ sports website Outsports revealed that at least 40 NBA players had used anti-LGBTQ language on social media 75 separate times.
In 2018, the NBA fined Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic $25,000 for using an anti-gay slur to describe a Chicago Bulls player in a post-game interview. In 2011, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,00 for hurling an anti-gay slur at a fan. Last year, Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant was fined $50,000 for using homophobic slurs on social media.
According to the conservative, anti-“woke” sports news website OutKick, NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar criticized Edwards for the video and suggested that a fine was too light a penalty.
“It would be easy to dismiss Edwards’ immaturity — he’s only 21 — if not for the fact that we’ve seen so many cases of famous athletes and owners in the news spouting racism, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote in a Substack newsletter this week. “This damages sports in general and their teams specifically, and revives the old stereotype of the dumb, bullying jock. But more important (sic), it perpetuates prejudice against a group, and that prejudice often leads to restricting rights and to violence. I don’t think an apology-however heartfelt-is enough.”
Abdul-Jabbar added that Edwards should volunteer with LGBTQ groups as penance instead of paying a fine.
“Edwards needs to repair the damage with some voluntary community service with LGBTQ+ organizations, particularly youth groups, to show his support,” he wrote. “If he can’t do that much to undo the harm he’s caused, then his apology is meaningless.”